In recent years, nanomaterials have been increasingly developed and applied in the field of bone tissue engineering. However, there are few studies on the induction of bone regeneration by tantalum nanoparticles (Ta NPs) and no reports on the effects of Ta NPs on the osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) and the underlying mechanisms. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Ta NPs on bone regeneration and BMSC osteogenic differentiation and the underlying mechanisms. The effects of Ta NPs on bone regeneration were evaluated in an animal experiment, and the effects of Ta NPs on osteogenic differentiation of BMSCs and the underlying mechanisms were evaluated in cell experiments. In the animal experiment, hematoxylin-eosin (HE) staining and hard-tissue section analysis showed that Ta NPs promoted bone regeneration, and immunohistochemistry revealed elevated expression of BMP2 and Smad4 in cells cultured with Ta NPs. The results of the cell experiments showed that Ta NPs promoted BMSC proliferation, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, BMP2 secretion and extracellular matrix (ECM) mineralization, and the expression of related osteogenic genes and proteins (especially BMP2, Smad4 and Runx2) was upregulated under culture with Ta NPs. Smad4 expression, ALP activity, ECM mineralization, and osteogenesis-related gene and protein expression decreased after inhibiting Smad4. These data suggest that Ta NPs have an osteogenic effect and induce bone regeneration by activating the BMP2/Smad4/Runx2 signaling pathway, which in turn causes BMSCs to undergo osteogenic differentiation. This study provides insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of Ta NPs in bone regeneration.